In the US, some of the best traditional pension plans are for members of the Armed Forces. Being a career “lifer” isn’t for everyone, of course, but in a typically basic situation, an 18-year-old can serve 20 years and retire on half-pay for a lifetime. Retirement after 30 years qualifies for 3/4 pay.
Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent who has any brains or ambition has many opportunities to work hard, get promoted and keep a clean record for that relatively short time. In what other field can a retiree be only 38 or 48 and get $20,000 or more a year for the rest of his/her life?
With appropriate military specialty experience, that young retiree can work another 20 years in industry or business, and take home what will be virtually double pay. Additionally, the military retiree has full medical and other free benefits for a lifetime.
A similar path is for the 18-year-old enlistee to sign up for a bachelor’s degree program while serving, and when qualified, apply for officer’s school or direct commission. As an officer, it takes several years longer to qualify for the 20-year earliest retirement, but the lifetime income can be considerably higher.
College students are offered programs where they can qualify as reserve military officers upon graduation. Young, retired military officers who worked their way through the ranks, and have professional qualifications, are in great demand in the defense and other industries.
The most traditional path is for a high school student to apply for entry into one of the service schools: West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force and Coast Guard academies. Competition for appointments can be tough, but once accepted, a secure lifetime career and pension are possible upon completion of the four-year, tuition-free program.
Academy graduates traditionally are the backbone of the military officer corps, and are most likely to achieve flag rank … admiral or general. Lifetime pensions and benefits after 20 or 30 years are substantial, as well as excellent potential for after-retirement executive jobs in business, industry and, in many cases, national politics.